May 24, 2010 (Washington D.C.) - Congressman Duncan Hunter praised a not guilty verdict in the case of Navy SEAL Matthew McCabe, who faced court-martial for allegedly beating Iraqi detainee Ahmed Hashim Abed and lying to investigators.
Abed was arrested in September in Iraq for allegedly orchestrating the 2004 murders of four U.S. contractors working for Blackwater USA in Falluja. The contractors' burned bodies were later hung from a bridge, triggering the siege of Falluja.
“This was the absolute right decision,” said Congressman Hunter in a statement issued earlier this month. “The military justice system worked in this case and the other acquittals of Navy SEALs involved in the same incident, putting our war fighters above a known terrorist responsible for the killing and mutilation of several private security contractors. “Still, it’s troubling that charges were brought against these individuals in the first place. Doing so was a severe overreaction by the Chain of Command that, if repeated at any time for actions under the same circumstances, would create an unnecessary level of uncertainty among our combat personnel.”
As a Marine Combat veteran of the war in Iraq, Congressman Hunter served in one of several Marine combat units that responded to the killing of the four private security contractors in 2004.
Two other Navy seals charged with abusing the same detainee were also acquitted in earlier tria
The government's key witness, Petty Officer Kevin Demartino, testified that he saw McCabe punch Abed in the abdomen, causing him to spit up blood. He did not initially report the incident but later said his conscience compelled him to come forward. But other government witnesses disputed Demartino’s version of events and suggested he was emotionally distraught.